100 joys

One of my favorite Bloggers, Slightly Cosmopolitan, started working on 100 Joys which she found out about from Sarah Markley’s blog.  My friend Allison also saw a similar idea and is inviting our small group to participate via email.  It’s such a wonderful idea, I thought I would participate both on my blog and via email.

So here we go…

Joy #1

This little gold ornament was hand-decorated by my sweet husband when he was a little boy.  This ornament has hung on countless trees in his parents’ home when he was growing up and now hangs on our Christmas tree.  It’s hard to read in the picture, but the ornament just says “Frank” in glitter. It makes me smile!

 

Joy #2

The newest ornament on our tree this year was a gift from a dear friend, Meg.  She found this ornament while shopping with her fiance and they couldn’t resist.  It is a happy reminder of things to come in 2011.

 

Joy #3

Following in the theme of ornaments, this one is from one of my dear friends Erin.  She gave this to me when we were in college and somehow, between moving home, getting married and moving 4 times, we’ve managed to hang on to this ornament.  It makes my heart happy because not only does it remind me of Erin, but it also reminds me of all of the wonderful friends that I have made throughout the years!

 

Joy #4

What may not be clear in the above picture is that I am showing off my elastic waistband.  Elastic is one of my smaller, but still important, joys of the season.  I simply do not know what I would do without elastic considering my expanding waistline.  I love you, elastic!

 

Joy #5

We love the Chicago Blackhawks.  Love them.  Frank has been going to see them since he was a young boy.  We’ve been seeing the Hawks together for 8 years.  We’ve seen good years, bad years and awesome years.  We are not just-on-the-band-wagon fans, but rather long-term, committed fans.  I love seeing the Hawks play – win or lose.  I especially like it when the gloves come off and there is a great fight… especially when both players are trying to hold each other up while punching each other (cuz if they go horizontal, the fight is over…).  Nice.

 

Joy #6

There was a fantastic speaker at church a few months ago who talked about peace not being the absence of conflict, but rather, wholeness with God. I loved this concept and this season of the year reminds me of this all the time.  We live in a fallen world where there will always be conflict of one variety or another.  But we can have peace.  That gives me great joy!

 

Joy #7

Fundraisers where the kiddos sell cookie dough.  Talk about saving some time!  If that isn’t joy, I don’t know what is!

 

… Too be continued…

beautiful things

This morning at church they played a song by Gungor called “Beautiful Things”.  The lyrics were really simple, but really poignant:

All this pain / I wonder if I’ll even find my way / I wonder if my life could really change at all / All this earth / Could all that is lost ever be found / Could a garden come up from this ground at all

You make beautiful things / You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things / You make beautiful things out of us

Even though we are pregnant now, I still think a lot about our struggles with fertility. I think about how tested I felt and how alone, even in the midst of knowing quite a few people going through the same things.  I think about how often I wondered why we were going through this challenge.

A lot of the time, I think about how I could’ve done it better.

Maybe I could’ve been more positive and more optimistic.  Maybe I could’ve made it easier for the people around me by not talking about it or by talking about it more or by talking about it more positively.  Maybe I could’ve put on an attitude that was happier and more joyful, even when I was hurting.

And I kind of wonder what would’ve been accomplished.

It’s been occurring to me more and more the importance of reaching outward in difficult times and of being honest about where I am at, even if that location is not exactly lovely.  Glossing over feelings and putting up a front of being happy and in control is great if my goal is to make people feel like I have my crap together.  But it doesn’t do anything to draw people in, to connect with others or build community.  Of course, I believe there is a time and a place for being emotionally honest (ahem, losing it at work is not an option).

And then I think of Frank.

Frank loves to help people do projects around their homes.  He’s really good at helping, too.  He is much more coordinated than I am, so he is definitely more of an asset than a liability in pretty much any home improvement project.  He is smart, but he is not someone who thinks he has all the answers – which means he’s willing to problem solve and take direction.

Whenever he’s been asked to help with something and he’s not flying, he willingly and joyfully obliges.

And the thing about when he helps people is that it builds community.  He gets to know the other guys he’s working with and they usually feel like they are closer friends for having done the work.  I would argue that it is more effective for guys to build relationships working alongside each other than it is to go on a double date with their wives/girlfriends.

It’s just how guys are.

But imagine if no one asked him to help?  If everyone could just do it on their own?

I have a friend Rose, who you’ve read about here on my blog.  She and I have struggled with starting a family for some time.  She’s probably one of the sweetest girls I know.  And I doubt we’d be as good of friends as we are if we had not struggled through this fertility stuff together.  If she had said, “yeah, everything is WONDERFUL for me” and I’d lied and said the same thing, we’d probably never know each other as well as we do.

We share in the struggles together.  We cheer each other onward.  We rejoice and we grieve together.

I would also suggest that sometimes it’s the small things that bring us together.  Yes, the holidays are a great time for families to come together, but I also think that casual Tuesday night dinners and birthday dinners and celebrations of day-to-day things also brings us all closer.

So I don’t think I did the fertility stuff perfectly.  I didn’t keep myself together in a perfect little package of happiness.  But I don’t regret the struggle.

The song at church today reminded me that God uses all of this life we live to make beautiful things.  Out of the dust of our sadness and pain, God has grown friendships, strengthened our marriage and rooted us more deeply in our faith.  Our God is a faithful God, no matter the circumstance.